Cancun has become one of the most popular holiday destinations in the whole of Mexico, particularly amongst American tourists. Attracted by the clear-blue Caribbean Sea and white-sand beaches, many see Cancun as a place to relax, preferably in one of its luxury resorts.
Located north of Riviera Maya, Cancun is known for its all-inclusive resorts, nightclubs, bars and too many restaurants to choose from! If you could get a Cancun hotel by the beach, you’re already guaranteed a lovely visit. But it doesn’t hurt that you also won’t run out of amazing things to do in Cancun.
This busy city is also the door to other popular sites in the Yucatan Peninsula, as well as the rest of Mexico due to Cancun International Airport, which is well connected for both domestic and international flights. It is the closest airport to nearby popular destinations and also serves Playa del Carmen and Tulum, among a few other towns.
There are 5 ways to travel the 131km (81 miles) from Tulum to Cancun: a 2.5-hour bus, a 2.5-hour direct colectivo, a 3-hour indirect colectivo via Playa del Carmen, a 2.5-hour shared minivan, or a 2.5-hour taxi/private car. Fares range between 87 MXN ($4) and 2,030 MXN ($98).
The bus gives the most value for money in terms of budget and convenience. Buses have more space than the colectivo and enough room for your luggage. Fares from Tulum to Cancun start from 235 MXN ($12).
Colectivos are not as spacious as the bus, but you can get a direct ride for 130 MXN ($6.50), about half the price of a bus journey. There are also indirect colectivos available via Playa del Carmen. Combined fares start from only 87 MXN ($4) – a local favourite, the cheapest rates available from Tulum to Cancun.
If you prefer stress-free travel, then a shared minivan may be more your style. They offer door-to-door service with free pick-up and drop-off from Tulum to Cancun, starting at 625 MXN ($29).
When travelling with a group and want a door-to-door ride, it’s worth considering to take a taxi or private car instead. With rates from 2,030 MXN ($98), the cost per person may be cheaper than taking a minivan.
For those looking to travel from Tulum directly to Cancun Airport, there are options available that don’t require you to enter downtown Cancun. You can find out more about this in the last section of this article.
Tulum’s bus station is located in the centre of town. This makes it easily accessible by foot, or by taxi if you’re staying slightly further away or in one of the beach areas.
A good average rate for a ride from the beach areas to the bus terminal is around 150 MXN ($7). However, keep in mind that taxis in Tulum are not metered and so it’s better to agree on the rate before getting in.
Step 1: Tulum to Cancun
Duration: 2 hours Cost: From 220 MXN ($11)
You can take an ADO bus to get to Cancun from Tulum. All buses are first class, meaning they include air conditioning, a toilet and reclining seats. Operated by Mexico’s biggest bus company, an ADO bus ride is a guaranteed comfortable ride.
A bus ticket costs 220 MXN ($11) and the journey takes around 2 hours.
You can buy your tickets at the ADO bus station, but we recommend booking them online at least a day before to be secured a seat. BookAway is our preferred platform as there are no hidden charges, unlike other booking websites.
When booking, it’s important to pay attention to the departure and arrival points. Some Tulum buses depart from the archaeological site instead of the city centre where you may be located.
Not a fan of big cities like Cancun? Although we don’t recommend cutting your visit so short, it’s possible. Taking the bus, you can travel round trip between Tulum and Cancun in just one day. Just note that unless you take the earliest morning trip, you can only spend around 6 hours in this vibrant city.
If you really must travel round trip, we suggest that you at least spend a night in Cancun before going back to Tulum.
Buses stop at Cancun’s main bus station, conveniently located in downtown Cancun, with many hotels and hostels located close by or just a few blocks away. This gives you the perfect opportunity to exercise your legs after the long bus journey.
However, if you are staying a bit further away, in the beach areas for example, you may have to take a taxi to get to your final destination. Taxis are available from outside of the bus station and are metered, so rates will depend on the distance and time.
An average ride to the beach area is around 210 MXN ($10).
Another option is to use public transport. Buses pass in front of the bus terminal on Avenida Tulum and lines R-1, R-3 and R-38 connect the bus stop with the beach and hotel area. The rate for the buses is 15 MXN ($0.70) to be paid directly to the bus driver.
Tulum to Cancun by Colectivo
Duration: 2.5 hours Cost: 130 MXN ($6.50)
Mainly used by locals in Riviera Maya, most colectivos operating from Tulum to Cancun are indirect. You’ll have to make a transfer at Playa del Carmen. This shared shuttle is the cheapest option at 87 MXN ($4).
It is worth noting though that one company, Sindicato Lazaro Cardenas, operates direct colectivo trips between Tulum and Cancun. These are available every hour from 08:00 to 20:00. A ticket costs 130 MXN ($6.50), just $2.50 more expensive than the indirect alternative.
The direct colectivos depart from Calle Jupiter in Tulum city centre and arrive at Puente Peatonal at Cancun city centre. Travel time is around 2.5 hours. That’s 30 minutes faster than the indirect colectivo!
You can book your ride online beforehand via BookAway.
Indirect colectivo from Tulum to Cancun via Playa del Carmen
Duration: 3 hours Cost: 87 MXN ($4)
Although a bit of a hassle with the extra transfer, the perk of taking the indirect colectivo is that you can travel more like a local. And of course, the minimal cost. Combined ticket prices is only around 90 MXN ($4) and can be paid directly on the bus.
If you prefer to have this indirect shared shuttle experience, read on for a step-by-step guide!
Step 1: Tulum to Playa del Carmen
Duration: 1 hour Cost: 42 MXN ($1.90)
Colectivos to Playa del Carmen depart from a stop located on the intersection of Chetumal and Calle Osiris Norte in the city centre. There are two companies operating this route: Playa Express and Colectivos Foraneos. Each company has their own stop and buses run every 15 minutes or when the vehicle reaches capacity.
Playa Express operates from 04:00 to 23:00, while Colectivos Foraneos runs 24 hours. Our first choice is Playa Express as their vehicles are more comfortable, with more space between seats and working AC.
The average rate to Playa del Carmen is 42 MXN ($1.90), but it can increase during peak tourist season. You can pay your ticket directly to the bus driver.
Step 2: Playa del Carmen to Cancun
Duration: 1.5 hours Cost: 45 MXN ($2)
When you arrive in Playa del Carmen, simply get off at the last stop. This is where you’ll also find the colectivos bound for Cancun, which are operated by the same two companies. They depart every 15 minutes.
The 1.5-hour ride to Cancun costs around 45 MXN ($2), but prices can increase during peak tourist seasons.
The colectivo’s last stop is one block from the bus station in Cancun city centre. Unlike buses, you can get off before, if your accommodation is on the way.
Extra note on the Colectivo’s running between Cancun-Playa del Carmen-Tulum
Colectivo’s running on the route from Cancun-Playa del Carmen-Tulum are originally not intended for tourists as they mainly transport locals and workers from the resorts and tourist attractions.
They have become popular among independent travellers and low-budget tourists because they stop everywhere, allowing people to visit multiple beaches, cenotes and the Tulum ruins without paying for expensive tours.
Tulum to Cancun by Shared Minivan
Duration: 2.5 – 3 hours Cost: 625 MXN ($29)
Shared minivans conveniently take you door-to-door from Tulum to Cancun. This service is offered by several companies and is commonly booked online.
Although still more expensive than the bus, this shared minivan may be a good option if your hotel is located far from the bus stations and you want to save some money on taxis.
Shared minivans include hotel pick-up and drop-off and cost 625 MXN ($29). They run every hour from 08:00 to 19:00. Travel time is 2.5 to 3 hours, depending on the number of passengers and additional stops on the way.
You can book a shared minivan service via BookAway.
Taxis are also available from Tulum to Cancun. Rates start from 2,080 MXN ($100) for a ride with trusted taxi companies. Some taxi drivers from the streets may be willing to charge a lower rate. Just keep in mind that they may not be as reliable as taxi drivers from established operators.
So instead of taking a taxi, why not book a private car beforehand? Private cars are normally more spacious than ordinary taxis and they come with guaranteed trusted drivers. You can also easily book one online through BookAway. Prices start from 2,030 MXN ($98) for a 4-seater car.
Important: When booking your ride online, make sure you pick one that’s heading to either downtown Cancun or the Hotel Zone, wherever you’re staying. Fares for taxis and private cars from Tulum to Cancun Airport are about $30 cheaper and may look tempting, but keep in mind that the airport is still 20 minutes away from Cancun’s tourist area.
If you’re flying out of the Riviera Maya, you can travel directly from Tulum to Cancun International Airport. It is the busiest airport in the Yucatan Peninsula and the closest airport to Tulum.
There are 3 ways to do this: by bus, shared minivan/airport shuttle or with a private transfer. All three options have an average duration of 2 hours, but the bus may take an extra 15 minutes as it does make a short stop in Playa del Carmen.
IMPORTANT: When booking any of the Cancun Airport transportation services, remember to leave Tulum at least 6 hours before your flight to account for any traffic, roadworks or in the case of shared services, any issue with additional stops.
Compare transport options from Tulum to Cancun Airport
You can also get a direct bus to Cancun International Airport from Tulum. These are run by the company ADO and depart five times a day from 07:10 to 15:00 (roughly every 2 hours). As you’ll be travelling with a very popular company, you can expect a very secure and pleasant ride with an ADO bus.
Buses leave from the ADO bus terminal in the centre of town. You can purchase your ticket directly at the bus station or book it online through Clickbus. The bus rate is 300 MXN ($14).
Shared minivan from Tulum to Cancun Airport
Duration: 2 hours Cost: From 490 MXN ($24)
A shared shuttle is a good option if you want a direct ride from your hotel in Tulum to Cancun Airport but do not have the budget for a private transfer. Minivans depart every hour, 24 hours a day.
Note that the minivan may make a few stops on the way to pick up other passengers. You can book this Cancun Airport shuttle on BookAway for 490 MXN ($24).
Private shuttle from Tulum to Cancun Airport
Duration: 2 hours Cost: 1,390 MXN ($67)
Another good option is to hire a private shuttle. Your private driver will pick you up from your accommodation and take you directly to the airport. This service is provided by several companies that allow you to book in advance online.
We recommend booking your ride via BookAway, which offers the cheapest rates we’ve found for this route. Prices start from 1,390 MXN ($67) for a 6 to 8-seater minivan.
If you prefer to travel with one of the local agencies in Tulum, eTransfers and Happy Shuttle Cancun receive the best reviews and cost/benefit ratio. Rates for private transfers going to Cancun International Airport start at 1,400 MXN ($70) one way.
Cancun to Tulum Guide
If you’re heading the other way around, you can also check out our guide for Cancun to Tulum.
Frequently asked questions
Can you rent a car from Tulum to Cancun?
Yes, you can be your very own private driver when travelling between Tulum and Cancun. Rental cars in Mexico are very cheap. Prices start from 570 MXN ($28) for a 24-hour rental and 2,375 MXN ($116) if you want to rent for a week. For the cheapest rentals and most extensive selection, book one through Kayak or Skyscanner. Make sure you have a valid driver’s license! We also recommend that you check out our Top 10 Tips on car rentals to help you save money.